Michael O. Leavitt Center for Politics & Public Service

Project Prologue

Silicon Valley Alliance

The Governor was really technology efficient and knowledgeable, more than perhaps any other previous governor.  He knew Bill Gates and a lot of the other top people in the world of IT.  I knew he once in a while went down to Silicon Valley, so I said, why don’t we concentrate one of your trips to Silicon Valley on developing Silicon Valley as a place where we can attract business to Utah because we have a really good tech environment up here, but we need more headquarters and high paying jobs.  It’s not reasonable to expect Silicon Valley Companies to move their whole headquarters up here, but we can certainly get them to move some of their operations because things are so much cheaper in Utah and there is much less congestion, housing prices in Silicon Valley were going through the roof, and their freeways are snarled.  So we did that early 1998 up until the bubble burst at the end of ’99 and early 2000.  The Governor committed to go almost every month to Silicon Valley and we’d set up appointments and meet with various companies.  We eventually got Wilson Sonsini, the foremost law firm in technology to establish an office here.  We almost got Silicon Valley Bank, and they’re in here now.   And we got a number of companies, including E-Bay and Intel as a result of that effort and Leavitt spearheading it.

The Governor was so amazing!  There was this one company in Redwood City, that had about 2200 employees and we wanted to get them to move some of their operations up to Utah.  They had gone public a couple of years before.  Their head people were making a presentation for the Governor, and they went to quite a bit of work for this presentation, all on PowerPoint.  After a while they could kind of tell the Governor wasn’t listening very intently.  They asked the Governor if he already knew some of these things.  “Well, yes I do. In fact, I’ve been a shareholder ever since you guys went public.”  He understood all the technology this company was doing because he’s into that.  Absolutely blew these guys away!  Not only did he have the prestige of being a governor, but he had the prestige of being a tech governor.  So we had entrees and anyplace we wanted to go in Silicon Valley we could get in and get an audience.

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Michael O. Leavitt Center for Politics and Public Service